DETAILED OPERATION OF CAR AIR CONDITIONING.
*Always insist that you see the repair shop's "F" gas certificate.*
This is the very basic requirement for anyone handling your car a/c.
Did you know that: Car Air Conditioning does not provide "COLD" air!!
A/C Compressor Operation
Below is an overview of an A/C compressor and its operation
The compressor used to air condition your car works in a similar way to the one in
the refrigerator in your kitchen. The job of the compressor is to move liquid
refrigerant around in a pipe. The compressor pumps, or forces, the liquid from the
evaporator into a condenser and expansion valve, and then back to the evaporator.
There are three common types of compressors:
ƒ Two cylinder reciprocating piston type
ƒ Four cylinder RADIAL type
ƒ Six cylinder AXIAL type
The engine drives the compressor with a belt. In action, the compressor takes the
low pressure refrigerant from the evaporator and compresses it according to speed
and air temperature. The inlet side is known as the low (pressure) side and the
outlet side is known as the high (pressure) side.
The compressor compresses the refrigerant, and raises its temperature higher than
that of the surrounding air. Then, the compressor forces the refrigerant into the
The air conditioning compressor has an electromagnetic clutch that can engage or
disengage the compressor pulley. The compressor pulley always turns when the engine is running, but the compressor only runs when the pulley is engaged to the
compressor driving shaft.
When this system is activated, current runs through the electromagnetic coil. The
current attracts it to the armature plate. The strong magnetic pull draws the
armature plate against the side of the turning pulley. This locks the pulley and the
armature plate together; the armature plate drives the compressor.
When the system is deactivated, and current stops running through the
electromagnetic coil, flat springs pull the armature plate away from the pulley.
The magnetic coil does not turn since its magnetism is transmitted through the
pulley to the armature. The armature plate and hub assembly are fastened to the
compressor drive shaft. When it's not driving the compressor, the clutch pulley turns
on a double row of ball bearings.
AC Compressor Drive Ring
Inside the air conditioner's refrigerant compressor is a drive ring made of a friction
material that is mounted to both sides of the "swash" or "wobble" plate. As the
swash plate rotates, the friction material pushes the ball bearings (mounted to the
pistons) back and forth.
The condenser is a long tube that goes back and forth through a multitude of cooling
fins, quite similar to the evaporator in structure. The condenser is mounted in front
of the radiator to take advantage of the forced air provided by the fan and the
motion of the car.
As the highly pressurized refrigerant (vapor) flows into the condenser, it gives off
heat and warms the condenser. This causes the condenser to be hotter than the
forced air coming through the condenser. The condenser hands its heat off to the
forced air and turns the refrigerant back into cool liquid in the expansion valve,
where it heads back to the evaporator.
The evaporator is a long tube, or coil, that goes back and forth through a multitude
of cooling fins. It is quite similar to the condenser in structure.
The refrigerant is a liquid when it enters the evaporator. A fan blows warm air over
the evaporator. The warm air causes the liquid refrigerant to boil. This means that it
absorbs the heat from the warm air. Once it has absorbed the heat from the warm
air, the warm air isn't warm anymore. The same blower that blows the warm air
(that is now "cool" air) over the evaporator, keeps on blowing it into the interior of
your car, and you have -- air conditioning!
The evaporator also removes the moisture from the air coming through its fins and
turns it into water. The water just drains off. The temperature of the evaporator coil can go from 33 degrees F to 0 degrees F. If it
goes below 32 degrees F, the moisture that's supposed to drain off the coils will
freeze. This makes for a very (surprise!) inefficient system, so a thermostatic switch
is used to connect and disconnect it to the compressor as necessary.
The expansion valve determines the correct amount of refrigerant going into the
evaporator, and it lowers the pressure of the refrigerant.
When the compressor starts, the expansion valve opens and the liquid refrigerant
flows through a strainer in the high pressure liquid inlet. Once in the expansion
valve, the refrigerant is correctly pressurized. As the evaporator calls for more
refrigerant, the expansion valve allows the required amount of low pressure liquid
refrigerant into the coils.
The expansion valve maintains the delicate balance between the heat load and the
cooling efficiency of the evaporator.
Discharge/Suction Service Valves
Discharge and suction service valves allow the air conditioning system to be emptied
and filled. These valves also provide places where the system can be checked with
Note: Some systems use a Schrader valve in place of the discharge and suction
valves. This is a spring-loaded valve which looks rather like the valve in a tire.
The Compressor Relay
A capillary tube from a cycling switch lets the switch know what the temperature is in
the evaporator. This switch turns the compressor on and off to keep the evaporator
temperature at about 32 to 45 degrees F. The relay switch keeps moisture from
freezing on the evaporator core.
Electric Air Conditioning Fan
Sometimes an extra electric fan is placed in front of the condenser to provide an
extra flow of air during warm weather, or for times when the car has to idle for a
long time. You activate and deactivate the air conditioning fan when you turn it on
and off at the control panel.